I shot this pic of Michael Jordan's G-IV taking off the other day and noticed this vapor coming from what appears to be the starboard wheel assembly. Any Ideas??? It's a shot in a rapid sequence, the one before and after don't show it.
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I'm not a private pilot, but I do hold an Air Transport Pilot rating and I'm not averse to making wild guesses.
I'm not completely familiar with this particular aircraft, but I would bet that the inner gear doors are closed with the gear down (or up) and the inner gear doors open and close during the extension/retraction sequence. If the aircraft were just washed it is quite possible that the inner gear doors trapped some of the wash-water and when they opened during gear retraction, that water was released. That would be my first guess.
Of course, it could be hydraulic fluid, which wouldn't be a total surprise since there is plenty of hydraulic activity in the wheel wheels during gear actuation. In other words, that's when you would expect a massive hydraulic leak like this one, but it looks more like water to me. Hydraulic fluid is often colored, frequently red, but not always. It is much less likely to be fuel.
If it doesn't show up in the earlier or subsequent shots, then the theory that it was just an accumulation of water makes sense. I would expect either a fuel leak or hydraulic leak to look a little different and last longer than one frame shot in rapid sequence.
Did you happen to see a big orange fireball and plume of black smoke on the horizon a few minutes later? That would provide an additional clue.
I have quite a bit of time in the G-IV and they use a phosphate ester-based hydraulic fluid such as Skydrol, which is essentially clear. Whereas red hydraulic fluid, such as MIL 5606, is not used on the G-IV.
Therefore, I concur the photo shows what is most likely water as a hydraulic leak would usually not produce such a volume of fluid as to be that visible.
ATP.... Type ratings: G-IV, GV-550-450, LR-JET, CE-500 ...others
Apologies to the OP for being a little off topic I saw a programme last week of a plane being stripped down for salvage. One of the mechanics accidentally got sprayed in the face with Skydrol. Apparently that stuff really burns the skin and eyes! They used castor oil to wipe it off. Not nice.
I can testify to the fact it hurts like Hell. I got a single drop of it in one eye during a pre-flight once. Bad, bad stuff.
Walk into a high pressure, misting hydraulic leak, without eye protection on while in close proximity to jet blasts and spinning props, for example on a carrier deck at night,... Bad, bad things can happen.